What Are We Rooting For, Really?

The Buffalo Sabres have won six out of their last seven and the fanbase has been whipped up into a frenzy.

There’s two sides in the frenzy, and they’ve dug their trenches. On one side of the battlefield are the “tankites” (not sure who minted that term, but it’s so cutesy that it is loathsome, which was probably the point). On the other side, we’ve got the contingent of fans that like to toss around novelty phrases such as “Real fans don’t choose to root against the team.”

Then, there’s a third group of fans kind of caught up in the middle. I count myself of one of these fans getting whipped up by the crossfire, because I am not cheering against the team, and I’m not rooting for a tank. What I want, and what I think all fans want, is long term sustainable success. I want, like all of you, for the team to play well.

Are wins fun? Heck yea. Is 6 wins in the last 7 games something to cheer about? Sure. It’s been fun. Is the team really playing well?

No.

 

 

 

 

(You’re going to want to follow Derek on Twitter to make your understanding of this season, and all it’s weird twists and turns, a little more fathomable.) If you are like me – more of a visual learner – here’s how the Sabres really look on paper:  

 

 

Enroth has done everything he can do lately to offset that horrifying mathematical forecast, but his numbers will regress back to the mean. He’s not showing growth, he’s just on a nice hot streak. Celebrate it, but don’t be fooled by it.

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In 97 games played, Enroth’s save percentage is .914. He’s not Hasek. He’s not developing into Hasek.

Also noted today was the argument of how Colorado was able to ride a hot goaltender and make the playoffs despite their own terrible possession numbers last season. Unfortunately, the Avs were also second in the NHL in shot percentage at 10.12%. A Sabres team with one scoring line is simply not going to be able to keep up the pace necessary to make up for their own flaws.

So where do we go from here?

Climb out of your trenches.

We all want the same thing, so come over here and meet me in the middle. I’m not rooting against winning. I am rooting for the Sabres to play well, on a consistent and sustainable level. That is what the rebuild is all about. We’re not there yet: the prospect pool is deep, but the upcoming draft will add a huge portion of talent to the future core. Whether we finish in 30th place or 25th place, we’re going to add some real studs. The end of this whole rebuild process may very well be right around the corner.

Pretty simple, really.

Wins are fun, but the Sabres need to eventually start playing good hockey. It’s something we can all agree to root for.

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